Russell Crowe and the tangle of telephone wires on the streets of Bangkok

Russell Crowe and the tangle of telephone wires on the streets of Bangkok
Russell Crowe and the tangle of telephone wires on the streets of Bangkok

A feature of large Asian cities that is often noticed by Western visitors is the clutter of numerous electrical cables or telephone wires often hanging over the streets. In October this was noticed by Russell Crowe in Bangkok, Thailand, where the actor was filming a film about the Vietnam War. The Greatest Beer Run Ever. Crowe posted a photograph of a particularly crowded wire crossing on Twitter, reopening a debate on the issue, which Thai newspapers said prompted Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha to intervene: on November 23, he asked the National Commission of Telecommunications to organize the burying of wires and cables.

Crowe’s tweet was in fact heavily commented in Thailand. Several people responded by posting images of Bangkok’s streets or sharing his own, and the Thai Metropolitan Electricity Authority issued a statement stating that the wires photographed by the actor were from telephone lines, not electrical cables – and therefore outside. from their own competence.

The Guardian interviewed Napong Rugkhapan, a lecturer in urban planning at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, who explained that many of the telephone wires are difficult or impossible to remove individually because they are tangled with the others: “When an internet supply service wants to add a new line for a building under construction, he adds and that’s it because he doesn’t have the authority to remove threads ». It would take a collaboration between different companies and parts of the city administration to change the situation.

Often to make room for new telephone poles and wires, trees on the streets are cut or pruned, a solution much criticized by local environmental groups such as the Big Trees Project, but since no one has ever died from the wires, Rugkhapan says, no authority has never made a particular effort to solve the problem so far. It happens, however, that people stumble on the wires fallen from the poles. It has also happened that, in the event of severe thunderstorms, trees fell dragging the wires behind them and therefore causing small black-outs.

Given that this is not the first time that messy cables and wires have been discussed, there is some skepticism that the prime minister’s initiative will have concrete consequences. In 2016, for example, the issue was talked about due to a Facebook post by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and the authorities had promised to bury 127 kilometers of power and telephone lines, starting from 39 streets in Bangkok. Then in 2019, city governor Aswin Kwanmuang pledged to have the lines buried within two years. However, although work has been carried out in some areas and on some important roads, progress has been limited so far.

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